Ryuhyo Monogatari Train: Journeying to Winter Wonderland

Babashiri Train Station
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Ryuhyo Monogatari Train – Scenic Railway Journey in Hokkaido

“Living in a lonely world…She took a midnight train going anywhere.”

I had these lyrics stuck in my head for quite a while now, well, most probably it started during my recent trip in Hokkaido last month. Let me share with you some of the things I experienced in this trip worth remembering.

Inside Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Inside Ryuhyo Monogatari Train
Hotpot lunch at the Okhotsk Bazaar in Hokkaido
Hotpot lunch at the Okhotsk Bazaar in Hokkaido

Who knew that train ride can be so fun? After getting out tummy full by enjoying a delicious Hotpot lunch at the Okhotsk Bazaar, we took a trip to JR Hokkaido’s “Ryuhyo Monogatari Gou” and I never thought I could enjoy train rides like this one. When I said enjoy, this includes the sights during the whole trip, where most of the places are covered in ice, and everything looks picture-perfect. More like coming out of a polar express movie.

What is Ryuhyo Monogatari Gou?

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I have learned that the Ryuhyo Monogatari Gou is what most people consider as a train for a unique ice sightseeing. This exciting train route is only open for 30 days during winter. Travel time is approximately one hour and it has limited cars and routes. It goes from Abashiri Station to Shiretoko-Shari Station. It was established during 2017 to become a substitute for the Ryuhyo Norokko Gou. This was a train that functioned till 2016.

Abashiri Station
Abashiri Station

What differs this train from any other local trains is its details decors from the seat cover and the illustration of a clione. On the ceiling, you can find photos and information about drift ice and sightseeing spots. Another thing is that wherever I get to seat, both sides are amazing.

Abashiri Train Station
Abashiri Train Station

If you’re lucky enough, you get to be on the same ride with volunteer guides to make your trip even more worthwhile. These local volunteer guides discuss and explain the view you see. Plus, they also have some commemorative goods they sell to passengers.

Ryuhyo Monogatari Train Ticket
Ryuhyo Monogatari Train Ticket
Group shot at Abashiri Station
Group shot at Abashiri Station
Snow covered train station in Abashiri
Snow covered train station in Abashiri

When the train left Abashiri Station, I get to see some drift ice and a view of a snow-capped mountain. The train passed a couple of stations before it stopped at the Kitahama station, the station closest to the Sea of Okhotsk; an extension of the North Pacific Ocean.

Melo at Abashiri Station
Melo at Abashiri Station
Babashiri Train Station
Babashiri Train Station
Train ride to Kitahama station
Train ride to Kitahama station
Journeying to Winter Wonderland
Journeying to Winter Wonderland

The arrival at the Kitahama station is where passengers have the opportunity to go sightseeing. We visited an area that had a big wooden platform that gives a stunning view of the ice and the thriving neighborhood. I guess you can really call it a winter wonderland. Passengers are given 10 minutes during the stop to enjoy the sight and do some picture taking.

Temperature Check
Temperature Check
Kitahama station in Hokkaido
Kitahama station in Hokkaido

When we reached Shiretoko-Shari, our final stop, we were blessed with yet another great view.

Ryuhyo Monogatari Train photo via JNTO
Ryuhyo Monogatari Train photo via JNTO

Then we rode a bus from the Shiretoko-Shari station going to the Oshin-koshin Falls. I’ve seen and been to a lot of waterfalls in the Philippines, however, this was different; it was a waterfall that was completely frozen. Imagine that!

Shiretoko-Shari Station
Shiretoko-Shari Station

It was the first time I saw a frozen waterfall. There was a viewing platform at the height of the mid of the waterfalls. Visitors are only a few meters away from the falls itself. The Oshinkoshin Falls is actually considered as one of the best waterfalls in Japan. There is something artsy and dramatic with the view, which makes them in list of Japan’s Best 100 Waterfalls.

Oshin-Koshin Falls
Oshin-Koshin Falls

It is located beside the coastal main road in Shari going to Utoro. Well here’s a fun fact, the fall’s nickname is actually “Sobi no Taki” which means twin beauties waterfall because you can clearly see how the falls does split in two.

After going to the falls, I was supposed to join the rest of the group for drift ice walking activity. However, since I have a midfoot sprain, I decided not to join and just stay at the bus.

Witnessing other natural attractions of Japan was definitely a wonderful experience. Hokkaido, without a doubt, is a city you can’t miss!

Up Next: Ainu Cultural Experience

Our Hokkaido Japan trip was made possible by Japan AirlinesJNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) and Havas Media. Japan Airlines offers daily flights to Tokyo Haneda and Narita. From Tokyo, JAL also offers domestic flights to Sapporo, Hakodate, Obihiro, Ozora, Asahikawa, and Kushiro.

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